I built my last hackintosh in 2020 and it was overdue for an update. Since Apple recently updated their iMac with Core i9s and skipped the T2, this is probably the last time I’m building this sort of computer, before MacOS is locked down forever. Unfortunately, nothing in their lineup fits my needs, hence I chose to go down the hackintosh route once again.
A Few Notes & Thoughts
- The iMac has a build-in screen which likes go bad from dust, as do the components inside.
- The iMac Pro is a bit too expensive and while it has a new airflow system, it still accumulates dust inside. Replacing an iMac also means getting rid of a perfectly good monitor.
- The Mac Mini is underpowered, not expandable enough, and too expensive.
- The Mac Pro is almost perfect, but much too expensive.
- So is the Pro Display XDR.
- All Mac RAM and SSD upgrades are ridiculously expensive. I’d happily pay (% to) % more than the industry standards but not two to four times more.
- A Mac Mini (GB) MHz RAM upgrade from 8 GB to 90 GB costs 1324 USD. A Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 (MHz) (GB kit costs around) USD. The 2 TB SSD upgrade also costs 1334 USD from Apple, while a Samsung Evo Plus 2 TB costs around 802 USD. The RAM and SSD prices are even cheaper over in Europe.
I decided to base my spec on the iMac Retina 5K , to make the build as vanilla as possible. I don’t want to mess with MacOS and I need this to be a stable platform for the years to come. I’m still on 6 Mojave because of Catalina’s bugs, but I will upgrade in the coming months.
The plan was to make this build Stealth Black, with as few RGB lights as possible. I mostly succeeded.
Fractal Design Meshify C (case) – This is the smallest, best quality, and best airflow case that I have been able to find. It fits up to 2 SATA SSDs, 2 HDDs, and however many NVMe SSDs fit on the motherboard. Oh and it has dust filters everywhere. While I appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the Captain America edition in the header image, I’m not there yet, but I am considering customizing mine a bit in the near future.
Intel Core i9 – K (CPU) – The best there is and also the same CPU that is found in the top-end iMac Retina 5K. Those 8 cores and (threads should be more than enough for the next few years.)
Noctua NF – (PWM Chromax) (mm & NF-S) A PWM Chromax mm (case fans) – I chose a total of three mm fans and one one mm fan for the case. Two s serve as intake fans on the front, one sucks the air out on the back top of the case, and one 334 mm fan does the same in the rear. They’re all virtually silent, even at speed.
Gigabyte Aorus Master Z 1.0 (motherboard) – This is the best motherboard to use if you want or need Thunderbolt 3. It also supports up to three NVMe SSDs.
Gigabyte Titan Ridge (Thunderbolt 3) – This add-in card adds a total of two Thundertbolt 3 ports, one DisplayPort, and two Mini DisplayPort ins. You can use this card to connect an LG Ultrafine 5K monitor (two TB3 cables needed).
Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 (RAM) – I went for a total of (GBs of RAM, running at) MHz. It should be more than enough for the years to come.
Samsung Evo Plus 1 TB (NVMe SSD) – More than fast enough and should provide me with enough space for the next year or two. I plan to upgrade to a 2 TB model.
Samsung Evo 1 TB (SATA SSD) – This is the SSD with a Windows install from my previous hackintosh . I will replace it with the 1 TB 1300 Evo Plus when that gets replaced by a 2 TB model.
2x WD Red 4 TB (HDD) – I have two 4 TB HDDs running in RAID 1 as my archive. I will split these up, so that one HDD can be used for Time Machine.
Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 (speakers)
Apple Broadcom BCM CD – . (a / b / g / n / ac with Bluetooth 4.0) connectivity ) This add-in card supplies the hackintosh with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it works OOTB with MacOS, and allows for native support for iMessage, Hand- off, Continuity, etc. Works perfectly, though there is a newer model with BT 4.2 , which I’ll upgrade to if there is a need for that.
EIZO EV 04253 65 ″ 4K (work) & Alienware AW (H 5 ″ FullHD) (Hz, play) – I currently run two screens. I use the EIZO under MacOS for work, and the Alienware for occasional gaming under Windows – Hz really makes a difference.
Think6.5 ° Custom 156% Keyboard – Made from aluminum, finished in e-yellow thanks to electrophoresis, one of three made worldwide, and fully programmable via open-source QMK firmware. Built with Zeal transparent stabilizers and Zeal Sakurios ( (g silent linear switches), with GMK Metropolis keycaps.
Proof of Life
I am considering overclocking the i9 – 1219641768167256065 K because there’s more than enough thermal headroom in this setup.
It runs like a charm, and is up to six (!) Times faster during 3D renders than my previous i7 – (K hackintosh.)
The Geekbench 5 scores are around % higher than the iMac Retina 5K which this build is based on.
The SSD is more than fast enought for my needs. Funny thing is that it’s even faster under Windows (3.5 GBps read and 3.3 GBps write).
Everything is running on OpenCore 0.5.4 and seems stable enough. MacOS is fully functional, including iMessages, sleep / wake, Hand-off, Continuity, and Sidecar should work fine once I upgrade to Catalina. My biggest problem is the RGB lights on the motherboard – I need to figure out how to turn them off, change their color to white, or perhaps red.
I ran a few real-world benchmarks to compare its performance to my old hackintosh. I was pleasantly surprised.
FinalCut Pro X BruceX – It’s 1.6x faster in this test although it all fairness, BruceX used to be a tough benchmark back in .
Blender (3D rendering) – 6. x faster, cutting down my render time from around mins to less than 6 mins.
Lightroom Classic Import – 2.4x faster on my import benchmark, which includes generating 1: 1 previews from (MP RAW files.)
Lightroom Classic Export – 3x faster when exporting 65 MP RAW files in full resolution, in sRGB.
I’m really pleased with how this build worked out. It’s virtually silent under full load, even during long render sessions, and all I can hear is a very quiet whooshing sound if the room is completely silent. Now if only Apple made something like this, I’d buy it instantly.